The big talk lately about working in America has been unemployment and the problems stemming from this epidemic. But there are other problems regarding work that Americans are dealing with, according to USA Today. In “6 challenges affecting the American worker,” four Detroit Free Press writers talk about the challenges, which include unemployment.
The bottom line is that there are more workers looking for jobs than there are jobs available to them in the United States. July’s national unemployment rate was 8.3% and some say that it is actually higher because that number doesn’t include those who have simply given up looking for a job. If you include those people and workers who are only working part-time but would like to be working full time, the unemployment rate is as much as 15%. It could take quite awhile to get back to the levels of underemployment that we had in 2008, so American workers are doing their best to get by with a tough job market.
Maybe worse than the overall unemployment statistics is the high percentage of Americans experiencing long-term unemployment. Of those unemployed Americans, 41% have been looking for a job more than 18 months. Last year, 6 million Americans had been searching over 18 months, but this year that number has decreased to 5.2 million long-term unemployed. This improvement is good, but very slow. One example in the article cites a 62 year old man who has been looking for a job since he lost his teaching job in 2009. Sadly, he has spent his entire 401k retirement savings, but is getting by on the hope that he’ll find a job someday and his wife’s full-time salary.
Americans are very worried about retirement. This includes when and how they will financially be able to retire, or in some cases if they will be able to retire. Around half of Baby Boomers and those in Generation X are comfortable that they have enough savings to comfortably retire. That leaves almost half of these generations that struggle with anxiety over retirement. Between pay freezes, pay cuts, being laid off, and increasing costs, workers have dipped into their 401k’s early or stopped saving altogether to get by. Allianz Life’s Transition Boomers and Retirement Income Survey found that 28% of those so-called transition boomers don’t think that they can meet basic living expenses in retirement. Annuity products are a good way to meet those retirement income needs with some of the savings you have managed over your working career.
Two more problems facing American workers are overall bad jobs and bad bosses. Those looking for work might squawk at these complaints, but they are valid. A bad job, work environment, or boss can really affect your overall mental and physical health. Some jobs are just plain boring, others are dirty, and some can even be demeaning. Half of workers say that they have had a bad boss at some point in their working career. Bosses can be labeled as bad for a variety of reasons, but each can be equally challenging to deal with.
While unions can get a bad rap sometimes and are often used politically, their overall decline in America has caused some negative impacts on the workforce. As the union represented workforce went from 26.7% in 1973 to 13.1% in 2011, wages have been stagnant and wage inequality has increased. Working class and middle class workers have benefited tremendously from unions and their decline will likely cause more wage discrepancies for these classes.
These are the main issues affecting American workers right now. With a big election coming up in November, I sense that some of these issues will be hot points, especially unemployment.
Written by Rachel Summit
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